Being involved in an auto accident isn’t anyone’s cup of tea. Car accidents are a relatively common occurrence, but not everyone is familiar with what to do if you’ve been in an accident. Taking the following steps can help you handle this situation.
Insure Your Safety
First, make sure you and anyone else in your car are safe. If the car is driveable and nobody is seriously injured, this typically means pulling off to the side of the road to get out of traffic and putting on your hazard lights. You could also pull into a nearby parking lot. If you don’t feel safe staying at the scene for some reason, be sure to call 911 and tell them where you’re going and why so you don’t risk being charged with a hit and run.
Consider Calling 911 or the Police
If there is serious damage to one of the cars or anyone is at all injured, call the police right away. If the accident is a minor fender bender that doesn’t involve any injuries, local police may not want to deal with the accident, but you can call to check. Should the police not be called to the scene of the accident, you’ll need to fill out an accident report form. You can get these from your local DMV or online.
Exchange Information With Others at the Scene
At the very least, you’ll need to exchange your name, your insurance company and policy number, and your vehicle’s make and model number. While some people recommend getting contact information or photos of other people’s driver’s licenses and registration, this isn’t always a good idea as it can provide information useful for identity theft purposes. Don’t admit fault under any circumstances at this time.
Document the Scene and the Accident
Jot down your account of the accident including all the details you can remember as soon as possible. While you’re at the scene, take photos if you have a smartphone or camera handy. Photograph any contributing factors, any damage (or lack of damage) to involved vehicles, and the license plate of the other vehicle(s).
Contact Your Insurance Company
Once you’ve left the scene of the accident, contact your insurance company right away. Otherwise, you may wind up being held liable if you don’t provide your side of the story.